If the police stop you, you naturally do not want to incriminate yourself, but that can be easier said than done. Being questioned by the authorities is undeniably intimidating, and police officers are trained to cull incriminating information out of you. By familiarizing yourself with some of their techniques, you will be better prepared to protect your rights if you ever do find yourself being questioned by the police.
Line of Questioning
The police are not precluded from luring you into incriminating yourself. In fact, that is part of their job. You, however, have the right not to incriminate yourself, and you are well-advised to invoke this right. It is important to recognize that the police are trained to entice you to reveal more than you intend to reveal; you, nevertheless, have the right to remain silent.
If the police officer’s line of questioning feels like the “third degree,” it is probably because it is. If you have ever watched a crime drama, you are familiar with this aggressive interrogation technique. While threats and intimidation are not entirely off-limits, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will aggressively challenge any confession that is deemed to have been coerced. As such, many police departments are moving away from interrogation tactics that are overly intimidating. Do not be intimidated; invoke your right to professional legal counsel.
The Reid Technique
The Reid Technique is named after the officer who created it, and it is based on the police officer building a solid relationship with the person being questioned – and then asking lots and lots of questions. The officer is trained to interpret the interviewee’s reactions to these questions. The fact is, however, that – if you are being questioned by the police – the level of stress you are experiencing is likely to cause you to act weird. Further, inveterate liars often sail through the Reid Technique without raising any red flags.
The Good-Cop/Bad-Cop Interrogation Style
If a pair of officers – one aggressive and the other friendly – questions you, you may be party to a good-cop/bad-cop situation. This generally includes:
- The aggressive cop vigorously questioning you.
- The friendly cop (after switching places with the aggressive cop) commiserating with you.
- You – in your relief – attempting to set the record straight.
In actually, however, this is an attempt to trip you up. While difficult to believe, this technique can be so effective that innocent parties have admitted to crimes they did not commit.